Shelf Life: Must love dogs

Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, June 6, 2017

It’s almost time for the second annual Polk County Public Library Mutt Strut 5k! We had a great turnout last year and plan to make it even better this time around. The race is on Saturday, June 17 at 9 a.m. at Polk County Middle School. There will be music, a finish line photo booth, a dog toy station, adoptable dogs from Foothills Humane Society, raffles, and prizes for the top finishers in each age group (youth up to 12, teens 13-19, adults 20-29, adults 30-49, and adults 50 and older).

This is a dog-friendly event so please bring your pup with you! This year, there will be professional timing equipment from iDaph so all participants will receive official scores. Sign up in advance via the library’s website. Thanks to our sponsors, including Blue Ridge Barkway Pet Grooming Salon & Boutique, Purrrfect Bark, and Landrum Veterinary Hospital for making this event possible.

What better way to count down the days ‘til the Mutt Strut than by reading a great book about dogs? “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein is a book club favorite. The story is told by a dog named Enzo on the eve of his death as he contemplates his life with his owner Denny. At times sad, funny, and inspiring, you will fall in love with Enzo and his philosophical soul.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“A Dog’s Purpose” by W. Bruce Cameron has recently been turned into a movie. Subtitled “A Novel for Humans,” the book explores the unbreakable bonds between a dog and its owner. The moral of the story here is that every creature has a purpose and our true friends are always with us.

I watched the firm version of “Marley & Me” several years ago and it was a tearjerker. I have no doubt that the book would cause a few tears to shed as well. John Grogan’s autobiographical account of “Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog” chronicles the 13 years the author and his family spent with their poorly behaved but loveable pup Marley.

“Until Tuesday” by Bret Witter and Luis Montalvan is the heartwarming story of the dog who changed a former soldier’s life forever. Montalvan was a highly decorated captain in the U.S. Army who returned home from Iraq with both physical wounds and crippling PTSD. Tuesday was a sensitive golden retriever who had a hard time trusting and connecting with humans. The book is about their connection and how they were able to heal each other’s souls and find love and peace.

There are many other books – and movies – about dogs available at the library, including some classics that all ages will enjoy such as “Where the Red Fern Grows,” “Because of Winn-Dixie,” and “Old Yeller.” Come pick one up after you sign up for the Mutt Strut 5k. I’ll see you bright and early next Saturday morning!

Jen Pace Dickenson is the Youth Services Librarian for Polk County Public Libraries. For information about the library’s resources, programs, and other services, visit or call 828-894-8721.